Apple’s video-capable iPod and iTunes are first vital link in new distribution paradigm

Disney CEO Robert Iger “made a dramatic appearance onstage with Apple CEO Steve Jobs in San Jose, Calif., last week as the Apple chairman unveiled the video iPod. After the other studios refused Jobs’ pleas for content, Iger became the first to provide day-after downloads via iTunes of primetime programs such as ABC’s ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Lost.’ Just as Disney used ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ to attract TV viewers to his theme parks, Iger sees video-on-demand as a means of driving interest in all the properties in Disney’s far-flung empire, which now ranges from ESPN to Hong Kong Disneyland,” Anne Thompson writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

Thompson writes, “Sure, Iger’s motives for breaking the studio mold may be strictly opportunistic, as he tries to keep Pixar in the Disney fold. But as the new kid on the studio block, Iger is swiftly emerging as the Hollywood executive most likely to lead the charge into what former studio chief-turned-Internet entrepreneur Barry Diller calls ‘the radical revolution’ that will continue to rock Hollywood over the next 10 years.”

“Yes, the iTunes video downloads will look lousy when jacked into a TV set — for now, Jobs is keeping studio piracy fears at bay by not providing a higher-resolution image — but the video iPod and iTunes are the first vital link in a new distribution paradigm that will lead to the inevitable next step: higher-quality movie downloads. In the not too distant future, after Jobs’ experiment takes off, 16-year-old kids will be happily downloading from the iTunes portal not only music videos, animation shorts and 20-minute ad-free TV shows to watch on their computers, iPods and TVs, but also full-length features. What remains to be seen is who will provide them,” Thompson writes.

Thompson writes, “Five of the studios have been dragging their heels with the miserably marketed and supplied MovieLink download service. The independent CinemaNow also lacks a range of new movies. While all the studio IT departments boast plenty of smart executives with clever ideas about how to respond to consumer demand for new ways of experiencing entertainment, old fears of piracy and loss of DVD revenues (which are already beginning what could be a steady decline) have prevented studios like Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios from taking risks in this arena. By contrast, Iger’s television background seems to make it easier for him to walk away from Hollywood’s arcane windows business model. He seems willing to anger exhibitors and TV affiliates alike as he experiments with alternative distribution.”

Full article here.

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4 Comments

  1. “ television background seems to make it easier for him to walk away from Hollywood’s arcane windows business model. He seems willing to anger exhibitors and TV affiliates alike as he experiments with alternative distribution.”

    Seems to me that when talking about multi-media, the “Windoze business model” is the “alternative” and Apple is the mainstream.

    Or is Apple, by definition, always the “alternative” and M$ always “mainstream”? If so, then these words lack any meaning.

    Seems to me Iger is able to tell the difference between a juicy, delicious Apple in the forest, and smelly old Uncle Fester taking his pet skunk for a walk.

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